At the City Budget meeting last week our Conservative Team showed what we can achieve and deliver for our city.
Having run the ruler over the Budget presented to the Council, our Conservative team identified a multitude of possible savings for the taxpayer and then negotiated through £7.177 million of Conservative amendments to refocus our City Council and its spending on the job that residents expect it to do.
Our Conservative Team of 13 Councillors outperformed every other party to deliver this £7.177 million win for the taxpayer. For context Labour, who said little during the budget, managed to deliver only £447,000 on the night.
Our positive result for the community was achieved with a clear vision for our City, hard work over many months from our team led by Conservative Finance Spokesperson Joe Miller and good negotiation skills.
We started this year’s budget with a clear vision to restore the city’s heritage; improve the general state of the City to restore civic pride; and boost tourism for a post-Covid recovery and our Conservative amendments mean that work can now get started immediately on delivering a raft of practical improvements across the City.
This includes an immediate boost for our City’s east, with a $1.135 million renovation of Saltdean Lido, plus kick starting plans for new beach huts for Ovingdean, Rottingdean and Saltdean. We have ensured there will be disability beach access ramp for the eastern seafront and improvements to facilities at Saltdean Oval.
We delivered £4.535 million to commence the restoration of 80 arches along Madeira Terraces, one of our City’s Jewels in the Crown.
There will be an upgrade to the historic Volk’s Electric Railway to with a new platform to boost capacity; a new accessible carriage, shelter, and signage to direct tourists towards this attraction. £430,000 will start work refurbishing our historic seafront railings, shelters and beach hut infrastructure across the seafront.
Our tourism vision will see gateway signage for the city and public artwork to boost civic pride and we will light up the Hove Lagoon Beacon once used as a defence system during the Spanish Armada.
We have delivered funds to improve the state of the City with replacement bins with greater capacity at Hove Park, Hove Recreation Ground, Greenleas Park and Knoll Park to tackle our City’s problem with overflowing bins. Four new CCTV cameras will be purchased and deployed to tackle the city’s problem with fly tipping, a measure that we predict will be cost neutral after generating fines to offenders.
Our Conservative initiative for tree planting to camouflage unsightly phone masts will go ahead; as will replacement play equipment in Patcham parks; resurfacing of Knoll Park multipurpose play area; fixing broken tennis court nets and basketball hoops and additional pothole repair funding.
Crucially we also found funding to reverse some of the lazy cuts proposed by Labour and the Greens that would have hurt the community.
We identified savings to cover the proposed cuts to the Schools Standards and Achievements programme and to families with adopted children. These residents should never have been earmarked to pay the price for the council’s poor financial performance over the last 12 months.
Our Conservative Team also managed to find funding for domestic violence services after RISE lost the contract following a Labour Administration debacle. There was an additional Conservative commitment to the Climate Assembly Fund of £104,000.
All of these Conservative measures were funded by savings that we found in the budget – from senior management budgets as well as from several obscure council initiatives which may have sounded good, but on closer inspection would have delivered little in the way of practical results for the city.
We wanted to go further. We had identified enough funding to more than halve school debt after local schools were hit with 10-year debt bill from a Labour Council pay error.
Unfortunately Labour and the Greens would not agree to this as their ideology came to the fore when they disagreed with finding even small efficiencies in the trade union facilities time fund to pay for this.
All in all, including our earlier amendments, our Conservative team delivered nearly £7.912 million of amendments for practical action to improve the City across the budget process.
This is what we have delivered from opposition.
Imagine what we could do in administration to repair our finances, rebuild our forgotten heritage, to boost tourism and to bolster businesses, and to protect and support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged whilst investing in climate change at the same time.